Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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January 7, 2012

Sullivan’s Salvos 1/3/12

In this edition:

*Happy New Year!
*Democrats Caucus, Too!
*A Democrat’s Take On The GOP Caucuses
*Interesting Take on Board Actions
*Property Maintenance Code
*TIF Forum
*Did You Know?

*Happy New Year!
Happy New Year to you and yours! I wish you a healthy and happy 2012!

*Democrats Caucus, Too!
The GOP Caucuses have gotten most of the ink, but Iowa Democrats also gather in precinct Caucuses tonight.

Regardless of Party, to determine your Caucus location, call the Johnson County Auditor’s Office at 356-6004.

*A Democrat’s Take On The GOP Caucuses
The Iowa GOP will be picking a Presidential nominee at the Caucuses tonight. Even though I am a Democrat, and disagree with the GOP candidates on many things, I feel like weighing in.

While I believe elections should be about issues, I think much can be learned from a look at the candidates regardless of issues. How can we evaluate candidates without involving the issues? Like this:

Mitt Romney: Face it – he will do whatever it takes to become President. He will change any position. He has no core values.

Michelle Bachmann: We all get the facts wrong once in awhile. When you do it all the time? You are a liar. I have no time for liars.

Newt Gingerich: A bit of Romney’s flip-flopping, a bit of Bachmann’s lying, and the biggest ego known to man. In addition, NO single individual is more to blame for the uncivil state of politics today. No thanks!

Rick Perry: A stupid, pious version of Gingerich.

Jon Huntsman: You say screw Iowa? I say screw you.

Ron Paul: Consistent, and a breath of fresh air. Not afraid to go against the orthodoxy.

Rick Santorum: He does not waffle, and has clearly held values. He is working hard at the grassroots level. Iowa is not “beneath” him.

But for the fact that we disagree on virtually every policy issue, either Paul or Santorum would be my candidate. (I doubt that my endorsement carries much weight in a Republican Caucus!)

While this might seem like a foolish waste of time, I actually think this is an interesting exercise for Democrats. (Remember, I still disagree with Santorum and Paul on almost every issue.)

Even though I believe elections should be about issues, I know that there are “Democrats” here locally for whom I have never voted and would never vote. That is because they have the personality flaws of Romney or Bachmann. There are other local Dems I have “learned to love” because like Paul, they do not fit nicely into a box.

I can actually say that there are 4 candidates in this field for whom I could not vote, even if we agreed on every issue! I find that astounding, and it really punches a hole in my “issue-based voting” theory!

So – what are your thoughts?

*Interesting Take on Board Actions
You may have seen the article in last week’s Gazette (December 28) “Supervisors Clash Over Rental Code”. The article paints an unfortunate yet accurate picture of that meeting.

Controversy invites interest. I have had a couple folks contact me out of curiosity, and a couple contact me in support. But the largest number contacted me to express concerns over civility.

This perfectly illustrates my recent Salvos regarding civility. Civility is a red herring. It allows bad government to hide behind polite behavior. It creates an Orwellian environment where the truth matters less than being polite.

The article said, “One Supervisor accused another of lying.” That is true. But why is that the focus? Why doesn’t the article say, “Supervisor lies!”? Again, our focus is totally wrong.

You can call me direct, or blunt, or even rude. But I’m trying my damndest to do the public’s business in the manner the public deserves. I am not going to stop doing that. So if your number one concern is civility, then you may want to vote me out of office. If you care about honesty, courage, competence, or any other characteristics, then I urge you to tune into any meeting. I stand by my record.

We NEED people to pay attention! Elected officials at EVERY level of government NEED you to pay attention!

*Rental Property Ordinance
The issue that we were discussing was a proposed rental ordinance. The proposed ordinance contains several exceptions. Frankly, these exceptions turn my stomach.

First, all owner-occupied units are exempt. That means there is little that can be done in most mobile home courts, where most units are owner-occupied.

Secondly, the property would be exempt if owned by a farmer. I grew up on a farm. I am not anti-farm by any means. But I was also raised to believe that all people are created equal, and the law don’t care what your daddy do. That is not the case in Johnson County, Iowa in 2012, though. Because here and now, if your daddy is a farmer, the laws do not apply.

Thirdly, properties would be exempt if the renter did any work at all on the farm. This is even worse! It creates a “company store” situation, where poor people can be victimized in multiple facets of their lives. This Board already had problems with farmers housing migrant labor in deplorable conditions. (In 2001 – before I was on the Board, but during the terms of three current Board members.) This ordinance would virtually guarantee a recurrence of that sad ordeal.

Finally, properties would be exempt if one family member was renting to another. Because if a child is going to live in unsafe conditions, by God, that child ought to be related to the landlord! (Yes, if you are sensing sarcasm here, you are correct.)

The proposed rental ordinance is a joke. I will not support it. I will continue to push for a property maintenance ordinance.

Every child in Johnson County deserves to live in a safe home. Period. That is what I believe, and that is what I will continue to fight for. I am sick and tired of this Board pandering to the Farm Bureau, particularly at the expense of poor children.

*TIF Forum
Hopefully, by now you are aware of the new report from the Iowa Policy Project: Tax-Increment Financing: A Case Study of Johnson County.

Abuse of tax-increment financing by cities in Iowa is a statewide problem. Johnson County offers an illustrative case study of why reforms are needed, and which reforms might help.

Senator Bolkcom will be holding a public forum on the results of the report on Wednesday, January 4th at 6 PM at the Coralville Public Library. Local elected officials will be there to offer their two cents. Please plan on attending!

*DID YOU KNOW? The Iowa Caucuses began in 1846, but rose to prominence when they moved to first in the nation in 1972.

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website-

"Sullivan’s Salvos" is sent once per week to any interested party. It will give a brief update on issues of interest to Johnson County residents.

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As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!



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